Portuguese Egg Tarts, and Where to Find Them (in Macau)
Posted on July 12, 2017
There are three things that remind me of Macau. Sparkling casino, Ruins of the majestic St. Paul’s Church, and the Portuguese Egg Tart that is spread around Macau. Frankly speaking, I do not really put my heart into the first two. Firstly, I do not do gamble, because it is haram (if I lose). Then, I do not really like the ruins, because it is always full of people, so I can not find my perfect selfie spot. But the case for the Portuguese Egg Tart is different, since it is one of my favourite foods in the world.
Wait, Portuguese egg tart, in Macau? How come?
Taken from Wikipedia, there was a time when Macau became a colony of Portuguese, and later, became an overseas province under Portuguese administration. It was from 1557 to 1999, that made Macau was both the first and last European colony in China.
Portuguese traders first settled in Macau in the 16th century, then in 1557 Macau was rented to Portugal by the Chinese empire as a trading port. The Portuguese administered the city under Chinese authority and sovereignty until 1887, when Macau became a colony of the Portuguese Empire. Sovereignty over Macau was transferred back to China on 20 December 1999.
Back in 2012, when I was visiting Macau for the first time, I got curious with the sweet-smelling aroma that teased my sense of smell on my way to the ruins. I followed it, and found out that the aroma came from a display case in front of a snack store named Pastelaria Koi Kei. Inside the case, I saw many small yellow tarts with their burnt creamy custard on the top and layers of crispy crust around it.
“It’s an egg tart.” Said the lady inside the store. “Portuguese egg tart.”
“How much?” She mentioned the price, I forgot how much was it, but she said that it will be cheaper if I buy six pieces, half dozen. At that time, the price was too expensive for me, who only had less than 5 million Rupiah for nine days trip in Macau – Hong Kong – Shenzen – Guangzhou – Zhuhai – Macau.
“Okay, I want to buy six.” I said. Six for our group that consisted of five persons. I asked all of my friends to gave their money to me. “Patungan, guys.”. Patungan means split the bill.
That day, we enjoyed the egg tarts in a small park just behind the ruins. It was my first time, and since that day, I did believe in love at first bite. My love for Portuguese egg tart, to be exact.
The smell of Macau’s Portuguese Egg Tart, the sweet creamy custard and caramel that melted in my tongue, the crispy layers of its crust brought me back in Macau again in April, 2017. This time, my mission was to find the most delicious Portuguese egg tart in Macau.
Disclaimer: Because I am not a professional food connoisseur, nor food snob, I will give you a newbie review about Portuguese Egg Tart in Macau, collaborating with my wife, as a pastry maker. Price per April 2017, in Hong Kong Dollar or Macanese Pataca, it has same valuation there.
So how was it going? Let’s start from…
CUPPA COFFEE (⭐️⭐️⭐️)
We started the journey based on online searching, and I did not know why, the searching had took us to a … coffee shop, named Cuppa Coffee. Finding egg tarts in a coffee shop? Was it possible? We would see.
The cashier greeted us warmly when we walked into the store, and told us to queue behind another customers. Beside her, there was a small display containing racks of egg tarts. Inside the coffee shop, I saw some people doing their thing –common things that people do in the coffee shop, working with laptop, reading a book, meeting a friend, or being a coffee snob.
I was still looking into the menu when she said “Good afternoon, may I help you?”
“Yes, I want two egg tarts.” I pointed the display “One cuppa latte, and one hot chocolate.”
We went upstair because the seats were full down there and found a cozy place in the corner. In the other corner, there was a rack full of books. For me, this place was a perfect place to do my blogging job.
The egg tart itself felt so soft and sweet, although it was served in cold condition, but the crust was still crisp. It was delicious, but I enjoyed the hot cuppa latte ($35) more than I enjoyed my egg tart ($10). One of my best coffees in Macau, better than Starbucks.
Address: 104 - 106 R. de Fernao Mendes Pinto
Just nearby Cuppa Coffee, in the corner of Rua de Fernao Mendes Pinto, we found another place that sells egg tart. A restaurant with fancy interior, if I may said. From the clear glass window, we can see big display inside the restaurant that displaying many kinds of cakes and pastries, and egg tart was one of them.
Honestly, I did not know the correct name of this restaurant, the waitress there did not give me the right answer as well, because they can not speak English. Then, since I found this writing inside “Estabelecimento de comidas mactugal” I assumed that this restaurant name was “Mactugal”.
Near the writing, I saw a kind of award that was given to this restaurant, called “Premio Empresa de Qualidade Star Merchant Award”.
For $8, we got a piece of egg tart. It felt a little bit smaller than Cuppa Coffee’s, but the custard was more solid and dense. “Probably because they use more eggs here.” Gladies –my wife, explained to me. The taste itself, was not too sweet for me, which was little bit odd for an egg tart.
But hey, who can complained for a free infused water that came with the not-too-sweet egg tarts?
Address: Chuen Yuet Garden, 122 號 地下 G 座, Rua de Fernao Mendes Pinto
KOI KEI BAKERY (⭐️⭐️⭐️)
In my opinion, the taste of egg tart at Koi Kei Bakery, was the standard taste of Portuguese Egg Tart in Macau. For $10 –surprisingly was the standard price nowadays for an egg tart, you can get palm size egg tart wrapped inside a small size oil paper.
The taste was sweet, similar with the Cuppa Coffee’s, but it melted on my tongue because the Koi Kei’s was served hot, and directly taken from the warmer. The texture was softer than Mactugal’s but harder than Cuppa Coffee’s.
Basically, Koi Kei Bakery was the largest bakery store in Macau that has more than 20 branches around Macau, so you can find this egg tart almost everywhere, from Venetian Macau, Senado Square, to Rua do Cunha. But since it was a bakery store –not a restaurant nor coffee shop, you can not enjoy it inside and have to take it away, or bring it as peculiar ‘oleh-oleh’/souvenirs from Macau.
Address: The Venetian Macao, Estrada da Baia de Nossa Senhora da Esperanca
LORD STOW’S (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)
The history of Portuguese Egg Tart in Macau began in 1989, when an Englishman named Andrew Stow (yes, an Englishman, in Macau, not a legal alien), added cream to his custard mixture at a bakery in Coloane, and started selling his egg tart under Lord Stow’s Bakery.
With a help of his wife, Margaret Wong, they started a new trend, making Portuguese Egg Tart that later became symbol of Macau. Nowadays, you can say that it would be considered as a crime, if you come to Macau without trying their Portuguese Egg Tart.
I did not got the time to visit the original store of Lord Stow’s in Coloane Island, so I switched the plan to visit its store at The Venetian Macao, same place where I got my Koi Kei’s above. When I was there, the cafe and bakery was still under renovated, and there were only the pop up store nearby the canal.
Eventough it was only a small store, but the queue line was so long. I had to wait for several minutes until I got my chance to buy the legendary Lord Stow’s for $10.
So far, it was the crunchier pastry in Portuguese Egg Tart that I ever tasted. The texture was similar with Mactugal’s but tastier and more delicious because it was served hot. The custard suddenly filled my mouth when I bite it.
“Aw so yummy!” I yelled. “And hot, aw!”
“Watch out, dear.” Gladies replied, “It just came out from the oven.”
Ouch sorry, but I did not mind if my tongue got burnt a little, for the taste of the most famous Portuguese Egg Tart in Macau.
Original Address: Coloane Island, 1 Rua do Tassara
MARGARET’S CAFE E NATA (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)
If Lord Stow was known as a father of Portuguese Egg Tart in Macau, then Margaret was the mother. It was not without a reason, because they were husband and wife before they got divorced years ago. Almost similar with Suharti and Ny. Suharti case in Indonesia.
After the divorcement, Margaret made her own egg tart business, by opening the Margaret’s Cafe E Nata in the corner of Rua Alm Costa Cabral.
The place itself was a little bit tricky to be found, and even they said that finding the cafe is half the fun: “From Av. do Infante D. Henrique, turn north onto Av. de Joao IV and look for the small sign pointing the way to your left into a dingy-looking alley. Another simpler way to find the cafe is to look at Hotel Sintra and around the way, ask shop-owners in the area for directions.”
If you want to go there (to eat in the cafe), prepare to arrive early –the store opens at 6.30 in the morning, or you will lost a chance to get your seat. Though it always full of people, but Margaret did not open any branch of her cafes. Like Chinese-Indonesian people said “Mungkin hokinya di situ!“, it is her lucky place.
Comparing to Lord Stow’s, the texture and the crust were similar, but the custard was less sweet (maybe because of her past was more bitter?). For me, it was to my taste, so I liked it more.
Here, you can get an egg tart for $10 each or six pieces for $55. It will be better if you combine it with a glass of milk tea.
Address: 17A Rua Alm Costa Cabral, Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro
TEA PLUS SMILE (⭐️)
I stumbled into this small store when I was on my way to the ruins, I did not know the name of the store, but it had the big smiley icon on the top of its egg tart display. The big smiley that was talking to me “Come here son, I have egg tarts. It is so cheap, you can get 2 pieces for 10 Dollars :)”.
Literally, it was not even an egg tart store nor a pastry shop. It was an ordinary beverages kiosk that sell egg tarts, so the egg tart’s taste was not too delicious. For $5, the egg tart was so small. It was sweet, with a harder crust. Definitely a one night stand egg tart, that you can try today and forget it tomorrow.
Address: On the way to the Ruins, I forgot the exact address. Probably at Rua de São Paulo.
CHOI HEONG YUEN BAKERY (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)
I found this gem just nearby the ruins, again, a sweet-smelling aroma passed my nose and forced me to go back. It came from a bakery shop named Choi Heong Yuen, bakery shop –like Koi Kei, that have a display of egg tarts in the entrance. A display of egg tarts that was guarded by a grumpy-face lady, to be exact.
At first, I did not give too much expectation to their egg tart, I thought that maybe the taste was similar with Koi Kei’s or maybe worse, but I was wrong. For $10 –the standard egg tart price in Macau, I got the crunchy crust, piping hot sweet custard that into my taste, and surprisingly better than Koi Kei’s!
The only bad thing here was the lady that assisted me with the payment, how come she served the customer with that grumpy face? Or maybe because I only bought one piece
(while two pieces is sexier)?
Address: Edificio Hang Fai, 28 R. de São Paulo
SAN HOU LEI (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)
The last stop (from our three days journey in Macau) was this small restaurant at Rua do Cunha, named San Hou Lei. At first, we were afraid to come in because we did not see any sign that this place sells egg tart, only some Chinese inscription on the wall, with the alphabet above, saying ESTABELECIMENTO DE COMIDAS ‘SAN HOU LEI’.
Was it the famous San Hou Lei from the internet? What if this place was a Chinese Drug Store? What if this place was a casino with local wisdom?
All the questions inside my head were immediately answered when I opened the front door, and found a pastry oven just behind the door. An oven with dozens of egg tarts inside. In seconds, the sweet smell of them successfully filled my nostrils.
I looked at the menu in a glance and ordered a bowl of chicken noodle (by pointing the English words above the Chinese) “I am starving, let’s eat first.” I talked to Gladies “Egg tarts can wait”. Afterwards, she asked for a plate of rice and sweet and sour fish, by pointing another words.
At the end of those delicious meal, I ordered two pieces of egg tarts, for dessert. One was the Portuguese Egg Tart ($13), and the other one was the bird nest egg tart ($16).
San Hou Lei had some choices off egg tart, but the most popular was the bird nest, then the Portuguese, and the one with coconut custard. The Portuguese itself tasted so soft in my tongue, the pastry was crunchy, and the yellow (I thought that it was the yellowest one) custard was so sweet –but not too sweet, just right, like the smile of Gal Gadot.
The traditional and authentic feel inside San Hou Lei, made me decide that the best Portuguese Egg Tart in Macau is located here.
Address: 13-14 Rua do Cunha